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EDITIONS
Monday, 18 November, 2002, 00:04 GMT
Harrison bows out with a smile
George Harrison with wife Olivia
George Harrison died of cancer in November 2001

Some of the themes most strongly associated with George Harrison in life were love, spirituality and humour - and there, in essence, is the story of his farewell album.

How many songwriters facing the certainty of their imminent demise would record a playful blues tune complete with a line about a "concrete tuxedo"?

And who else could then scatter it among the most profound meditations on eternity and the quest for inner peace without it seeming contrived?

Brainwashed
Brainwashed was finished by Harrison's son
Brainwashed chronicles the recurring thoughts that were still preoccupying Harrison in the weeks before his death from cancer last November at the age of 58.

Completed posthumously by his friend Jeff Lynne and son Dhani, it makes for a poignant memorial and a strong reminder of why Harrison was so loved and admired as a musician and humanitarian.

Philosophy

Like much of Harrison's solo work, it veers from unremarkable and workmanlike to inspired, the songs characterised by strong melodies and, of course, some deft guitar lines.

At times the lyrics can seem flat, not always articulating Harrison's worldview as eloquently as they might.

But although you won't find a Something or My Sweet Lord on Brainwashed, there is plenty to enjoy.

The album opens with Any Road, an upbeat Travelling Wilburys-style workout, which neatly captures the Harrison philosophy: "I keep travelling around the bend. There was no beginning, there is no end".

Pisces Fish has a gorgeous chorus built around the line, "I'm a Pisces fish and the river runs through my soul".

Masterclass

Looking for my Life is among the album's more reflective moments: "I never knew that things exploded. I only knew when I was down upon my knees."

Rising Sun could fit happily into the later Beatles catalogue with its classic structure, strings, slide guitar and minor chords - a masterclass in the sort of tune Noel Gallagher spent two albums trying to hone.

Stuck Inside A Cloud - Dhani's favourite and the album's most immediate tune - is the archetypal Harrison: thoughtful, ambiguous - and returning to his favoured use of weather imagery.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea finds ukulele-playing George in music-hall mode for a croon through the old standard with pals Jools Holland and Joe Brown.

The album's closer, the title track, is a fitting swansong, suggesting the listener beats a different path to the one society decrees is right.

It's a journey Harrison spent most of his life pursuing, and - who are we to argue - one he would have you believe he is still on.

Brainwashed is released on 18 November.

See also:

18 Nov 02 | Entertainment
03 Oct 02 | Entertainment
23 Aug 02 | England
02 Apr 02 | Entertainment
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